Just Add Imagination – Follow Up

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Just Add Imagination – Follow Up

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By far the most read, most linked to, most popular by any measure blog post I ever wrote was called “Just add Imagination” and was written two years ago about about a 12-year old middle school student who created his own web browser. When I last checked it had over 2100 Diggs which accounts for the traffic. I still get traffic to that post from Digg and from other links on a daily basis. It’s amazing how things stick around.

I’m sure some people must wonder what’s happened to this student since then. I heard from him earlier this schools year and he’s now in high school having graduated elementary schools with top honors.

He is already taking honors algebra and geometry in high school. He’s done programming in C++ as well as C# but prefers C#. He’s excited about the Singularity OS which is a research project being developed by MS Research in C#. He’s interested in more advanced features and tools like XNA and LINQ (for data) as well as parallel computing.

Besides creating some 2D games in XNA he has also explored creating graphics using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Personally I’m glad he is exploring other tools besides Microsoft because it opens more possibilities and ways of looking at things. And as you might expect HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript have been added to his rapidly growing resume. Even some web services using REST APIs with XML responses in C#.

I REALLY hope this kid comes to work for Microsoft some day.

There are kids like this out there. Some of them are able to jump ahead on their own. Others need a little help now and again. They all need people to stay out of their way and not tell them foolish things like “you can’t learn that in middle school” or in high school. Or because they are one other thing or another. Still others could do this sort of thing, if not in computer science than some other field, if only they were exposed to it. If only someone or some event or some other external thing would show them the excitement, the cool, the wow, the world changing possibilities that are innate in many fields of endeavor. To me that is the most exciting possibility of education – the chance to share excitement and enthusiasm. This young student is probably a lot smarter than I am. I can easily live with that as long as he has opportunities to grow to his fullest. In this week of Thanksgiving I am thankful that this young man and others like him have free resources on the Internet to learn from.

What bothers me is when young people don’t get the opportunities to grow to use their full potential. That is the worst waste of all.

  • I wish my primary school had given me the chance to get into proper programming. I was in an endless circle with Game Maker and just never knew how to break out of it.

    I'm in secondary school now (UK) and I've only been there for a few years now. But I'm so glad I found that computing club, even if I'm the only one who knows what a compiler is...

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